Established in 1997 by Chairman Mel Sarumaru, YKK’s Global Marketing Group (GMG) has been working with companies headquartered in the U.S. to build their product lines in Asia for more than twenty years. We recently interviewed several GMG employees here in the U.S. to learn what their experiences have been like working for this group.
Christine Chen began working in YKK USA’s New York GMG office in 2005 and was there for three and a half years before being transferred to the GMG San Francisco office in 2009 where she worked for eight years. She then resigned from the company, but because the right opportunity presented itself at the right time, and she enjoyed working with the people at YKK, she returned as a manager in YKK USA’s New York GMG office.
Commenting on her job as a manager, Chen says, “Some of my responsibilities are to support my teammates to make sure they achieve sales targets and goals and to be sure that expectations are being met or exceeded and to nurture my team members. I also look out for employees who have a positive attitude and who perform well at work.”
Remembering the various projects that she worked on for both the San Francisco GMG office and the New York GMG office, Chen said, “I’ve worked on developing business with new and existing customers. I started to take on more responsibilities in the San Francisco office including working on the Trend project where I coordinated the launching of YKK’s Trend Book in the U.S. with Japan and the YKK operating companies. I also worked with the Outdoor project team to collaborate new product testing and innovative product development with customers.”
Chen says she supports all of the accounts that her teammates handle.
She also notes that her experiences have been different as a junior level employee verses a manager level employee. “As a junior level employee, I was taking care of my accounts only. Now as a manager, I take care of my teammates and how they can progress in the company.”
When asked what advice she would give to her younger self or someone just starting out with the GMG group, Chen says, “I would say, don’t be afraid to ask questions and pay attention to details.”
Chen says that what she enjoys most about working in GMG at YKK is being able to work and connect with people globally.
Explaining what she does for the company, Alicea says, “One of my responsibilities is to be the voice of the customer. I am responsible for initiating new developments and helping with lead time issues or general quality concerns. I also help provide the YKK operating companies with general information needed from the customers while also connecting them with new local offices and/or vendors. In addition, I am responsible for obtaining and growing new business within my account base.”
Discussing her use of social media to do business with accounts, Alicea states, “I have been using LinkedIn and other social media to connect not only professionally, but also personally with my customers for many years. I found that social media is a great resource for identifying potential contacts. I find different ways to identify and connect with the design teams. It is important that the customer knows your role and what you are able to do to help streamline communication, developments or just help with general questions and issues. Be the resources the customer has been looking for.”
When asked what advice she would give her younger self or someone who is just starting out, Alicea says, “My advice is to challenge yourself. Learn how to communicate with different locations around the world. Build relationships beyond work with your coworkers in different locations as well as your customers. Learn to utilize the resources you are given and use senior staff to help you learn and grow. There are many amazing individuals within the company who are willing to teach you. Utilize them.”Alicea says what she enjoys most about working for the GMG at YKK is the fact that everyone holds a different challenge that involves problem solving. “I enjoy the fact that I built such good relationships through the years with customers and coworkers that they have become friends."
Describing what she does, Schildkraut says, “As a senior account executive within GMG, I am responsible for maintaining and growing the business of my customers, as well as searching for new business. I also provide support and guidance to newer colleagues in the form of various training, accompanying them to customer meetings and supporting the overall growth for the GMG California team."
When asked what she enjoys most about working for YKK’s Global Marketing Group, Schildkraut replies, “My favorite part about working in GMG has to be the relationships that I have built both within the YKK organization and with my customers. Another thing that is very dear to my heart is the fact that working for YKK GMG has introduced me to my fiancé, Johnny de Boer, sr. manager of product planning and communication for GMG EMEA. By the time this article is published, he will be my husband, and he will be living with me in San Francisco.”
Asked advice she would give to someone who is just starting out, it would be, “Always push yourself to try a little bit harder because you may surprise yourself with what you are capable of doing, of course, be confident in yourself. Network and connect with everyone you meet.”